Warner Surname Meaning, History & Origin
surname Warner derived from the German personal name Warnier, comprised
of the elements warin,
meaning “guard,” and hari,
meaning “soldier” or “army.” The main surname to emerge was
Werner. Meanwhile, the Warnier name was brought to
England by the Normans after the Conquest. A Robert Warnier was
recorded in the Dorset pipe rolls of 1196. In time Warnier became
rabbits, partridges, pheasants and the like. The word warriner in
fact stayed in English use up to the 17th century, as in one of Cobbe’s prophecies of 1614: “The warriner knows there are rabbits in breeding!” The surname Warner here would designate someone who lived near a game park or was employed in one.
- Sir Thomas Warner of Dorset
The slave past.
- The Warner Family
The Warner family on Constitution Island, New York.
- Warner Brothers
History of the film studio.
The Werner surname first
surfaced in lower Saxony in SE Germany and was also to be found in
Baden in SW Germany. They came
to America as Werners or Verners, Warners or even Wanners.
England. Early English
sightings of the Warner surname were in East Anglia in the 14th
East Anglia A
Warner family held Warner Hall in Great Waltham, Essex at that
time. The Warner name continued to be found there. One line
of these Warners, who prospered as merchants in London, moved north to
country estate at Parham in Suffolk. Meanwhile, there has
been a Warner family involved in the silk industry in Essex since the
17th century. Warner & Sons established
themselves in Braintree in 1870 and operated there for just over a
Other Warners traced from Besthorp, near Shropham in Norfolk.
John Warner of this family, dying without heirs in 1374, left his
possessions to a Cheshire knight under the condition that he assume the
Warner name. This he did and the line, based in Mildenhall in
Suffolk, continued to Sir Edward Warner, the Lieutenant of the Tower of
London during turbulent Tudor times. Then Warners of this
line, such as the gambler Edward Warner, frittered
the family position away.
Later distribution of the Warner name showed it spreading south to
London and the southeast and west into the Midlands.
Warner was a London merchant tailor in Elizabethan times.
His son, a royalist, was Bishop of Rochester (and the line then went
via a nephew to the Lee-Warners of Walsingham in Norfolk). Later
London Warners included:
- the Warner family who developed the Hornsey
suburb in the early 19th century
- another Warner family who
developed Walthamstow in the late 19th century.
- then there was
the Warner acting family, starting with grandfather James Warner, then
father Charles Warner, and son H.B. Warner whose career straddled both
silent and talkie movies.
Warners in the Midlands included a Warner family who held Wasperton
manor near Warwick in the 1660’s. Another Warner family was
engaged in the lace industry in Coleorton, Leicestershire from the
early 1700’s. The Warner family history of New Oxley House in
Wolverhampton began in 1820.
Ireland and Wales. Warner
in Ireland was probably an English implant, although in Cork it could
be Irish, an anglicization of the Gaelic name O’Murmain. Warners from
Macroon in Cork date from the early 1700’s. One family history
recorded a Warner family of farmers in Meath and Cork who moved to
Swansea in Wales in 1840. The Warners in Swansea included James Warner, a
bare-knuckle boxer, and Larry Warner, a theater manager.
America. The origin for Warners in America
may have been from England, Ireland, Germany, or they may even have
From England came Augustine Warner, who arrived in Virginia in 1628 at
the age of seventeen. He was the progenitor of the Warner Lewis
family of Warner
Hall, one of Virginia’s leading colonial families.
Another early Warner line began with John Warner from Essex who arrived
in New England in the 1630’s and was an early settler of Farmington,
Connecticut. Son Andrew was one of the founders of Hartford,
Connecticut (Lucien Warner’s 1919 book The Descendants of Andrew Warner
covered this line). Descendants of these Warners included Colonel Seth
Warner of the Green Mountain Boys, a Vermont militia group
at the time of the Revolutionary War.
Warners settled in Pennsylvania as well. Captain William Warner
came in 1675 and started the Blockley plantation (named after his
English home in Worcestershire). Twelve generations of his
family have been traced. Hayward Dare Warner’s 1971 book A Warner Family Narrative recorded
Benjamin Warner began a bookselling
company in Philadelphia which expanded in the 19th century to a very
large book publishing business. He and his brother Joseph owned
the Chamonix mansion in Fairmount Park. They are believed to have
been descended from the Joseph Warner who arrived in Philadelphia in
From Dublin in Ireland came Wettenhall Warner sometimes in the
1760’s. He married, settled, and raised a family in Orangeburg,
South Carolina. Later Warners moved onto Louisiana and
Texas. A descendant J.T. Warner compiled a genealogy of the
family in 1894 which was incorporated into Russ Williams’ 1968 book Kinsmen All.
Some later Warners from Ireland were:
- Henry Warner from Dublin who, it
was said, “ran away and enlisted as a common sailor before the mast”
and ended up in Pittsburgh
- Warners who left Macroom in Cork for Boston in
- and a Warner family who went from Cork to Texas in 1852.
Christian Wanner’s family had come to upstate New York from Germany in
the 1700’s. He was a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War.
When the War was over he changed his name to Warner and crossed the
border with his family into Niagara, Canada.
Other Warners who came from Germany were:
- Anthony Warner, a brewer from Baden, who came with his wife
Teresa to Nashville, Tennessee in 1835
- Frank Warner from Baden who immigrated to upstate New York in 1852
- Nicolis and Wilhelmina Warner from Hanover who went out to
California in the 1860’s
- and George and Mary Ann Warner from Baden who came to New Orleans
in the 1860’s and later settled in Canton, Mississippi.
Then there was a Jewish family
from Poland who changed their name from Wonsal to Warner on their
arrival in America in the 1880’s. With his three brothers, Jack
Warner founded the Warner Brothers movie studio in
Hollywood after World War One. Warner Brothers were one of the
premiere filmmakers in Hollywood during the studio era.
Caribbean. It was a
Suffolk man, Thomas
Warner, who established the first British settlement in the
Caribbean, in St. Kitts in 1624. A later relative, Joseph Warner,
rose to be one of the three leading English surgeons of his day and was
the first member of the College of Surgeons that was founded in 1750.
Many of Thomas’s descendants stayed in the Caribbean. The Warner
family dispersed over the Leeward Islands, some in Antigua, some in
Dominica, some in St. Vincent, and some in Trinidad. By the 19th
century the Warners were one of the most powerful families in
Trinidad. Perhaps the best-known of this family was Sir Pelham
Warner, the cricketing eminence grise.
His brother Aucher Warner wrote Sir
Thomas Warner, a Chronicle of His Family in 1934. A more
recent Warner is Jack Warner, a controversial Trinidadian minister.
and New Zealand.
Lieutenant Jonathan Warner arrived in Australia in 1826 on the Orpheus with the Royal New South
Wales Corps. He was posted to Newcastle, NSW and subsequently
settled with his family near Lake Macquarie. Warners Bay there
was named after him. Suzanne and Waldemar Lotocki’s 2008 book The Story of Lieutenant Jonathan Warner
and his Family narrates this family’s story.
Warners from Alfriston in Sussex were early settlers in South
Australia, arriving there in 1840. James Warner of London, who
had come to Sydney in 1837, became a surveyor and was the first to
survey the northern territories of Australia in 1846. One of his
sons, also a surveyor, settled in Auckland, New Zealand.
Edward Warner of Mildenhall. Edward Warner was a descendant of the famous Sir Edward Warner,
Lieutenant of the Tower. His father Sir Henry held Mildenhall
Manor and other estates in Suffolk which Edward was due to
However, such was Edward’s inveterate love of gambling
that his father made the following provision in his will:
“That should he in any one day lose more than one pound by play, he should:
– for the first offence forfeit his manor of Mildenhall to the
then Lord Justice of England,
– for the second, his manor of Thornhill,
– and, for the third, the whole remainder of his property to his
heirs, as one already dead and ‘played out.'”
Sir Thomas Warner’s Ring. The first British settlement in the Caribbean occurred in
St. Kitts and was undertaken by a group of Suffolk merchants led by
Thomas Warner, a captain in the royal guard. When the King
knighted him in 1629 in recognition of his successful planting of a new
colony, Queen Henrietta presented him with the ring that Queen
Elizabeth had once given to the Earl of Essex, her favorite
The ring was handed down in the Warner family until a
Trinidadian Attorney General lost it in the 1800’s. It has never
been found or positively identified since.
Warner Silk Making in Essex. Warner & Sons was founded in 1870 by Benjamin Warner to take
advantage of the negative effects of the Franco-Prussian War on the
French silk industry. The Warner family had been involved in the
silk industry since the 17th century, manufacturing traditional
patterns. However, Benjamin Warner was very interested in
contemporary design and bought designs from the renowned and
influential designer Owen Jones. The firm supplied Liberty &
Co, Collinson & Lock, and Debenham & Freebody.
The company moved to Braintree in 1895, having taken over buildings
already used in the silk industry, and specialized in high-quality
textiles, supplying fabrics for royal ceremonies for King George VI and
the Prince of Wales as well as the Queen’s coronation. The
company ceased weaving in Braintree in 1971, but examples of fabrics
produced there are held at the Warner Textile Archive.
Shamus Warner the Bare-knuckle Boxer. James Warner (fight name Shamus Warner) was born in Swansea in
1854. He was a bare-knuckle boxer and fought in both the UK and
the USA, as part of Billy Samuel’s Boxing Troop. He had been
known to fight up to 30 rounds a contest three times a week. His
last fight was at Clyne colliery, on top of the old pit at
Blackpill. After the fight he had to retire with badly damaged
In his younger years James used to deliver fruit and vegetables around
Swansea. He appeared in 1867 in a newspaper report as having been
apprehended by the police for being drunk while in charge of a donkey
He and his wife Mary had seven children. James died in 1912 as a
result of an unfortunate accident with the gas supply at the lodging
house where he was staying.
Warners in America by Place of Origin
The Warner Hall Graveyard. The walled family cemetery of the Warner and Lewis families is located
on the Warner Hall property, southeast of Warner Hall. The
cemetery, owned and maintained by the Association for Preservation of
Virginia Antiquities, is the final resting place for many of the Warner
and Lewis family members.
There are thirteen graves
in the Warner Hall graveyard, including the following six Warners:
- Mary Warner (believed to be Mary Towneley Warner), 1614 – 1662
- Augustine Warner I, 1611 – 1674
- Augustine Warner II, 1642 – 1681
4 . Mildred Reade Warner (wife of Augustine Warner II), died in 1694
- Augustine Warner III, 1666 – 1686
- Elizabeth Warner Lewis (daughter of Augustine Warner II and wife of Col. John Lewis), 1672 – 1719
Colonel Seth Warner. The following inscription is on the monument that was erected over his grave:
“In memory of Colonel Seth Warner Esq.
Who departed this life December 26 1784 at the 42nd year of his age.
Triumphant leader at our armies’ head,
Whose martial glory struck a panic dread,
Thy warlike deeds engraven on this stone
Tell future ages what a hero’s done.
Full sixteen battles he did fight,
For to procure his country’s right.
Oh! This brave hero, he did fall
By death who ever conquers all.
When this you see, remember me.”
Reader Feedback – Captain William Warner. I share the Warner DNA. I am descended from Captain William Warner who founded the Blockley plantation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Migration was to Wrightstown, Bucks county, Pa and then to Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky..
Sincerely, Ray Dixon (email@example.com)
Irish Warners Who Came to Texas. The Warners came out to Dallas county, Texas in 1852 direct from Ireland. There were eight of them, the old gentleman and his wife and five sons and a daughter.
A contemporary wrote the following about them:
“They were a family of more than
ordinary intelligence. The old gentleman was a remarkable man,
over six foot tall, well educated and as polite as a French dancing
master. He could make as graceful a bow as a Chesterfield.
He had a rich Irish brogue, was very interesting in conversation and a
dignified Christian gentleman, and was held in high esteem by all his
neighbors. He was born in 1795 and departed this life in 1875.
The family came from county Cork in Ireland. Two of his sons,
Robert and Benjamin, departed this life several years ago, also his
daughter Susan. The whole family were Protestant.”
The Brothers Warner. The Brothers Warner, which
aired on American TV in 2008, was an intimate portrait and epic saga of
the four film pioneers who founded and ran the Warner Bros. studio for
over fifty years.
Narrated by family member Cass Warner Sperling (Harry Warner’s
granddaughter), the 60-minute film gave an insider look at these
original Hollywood independent filmmakers and their varied
personalities and business sense; the little-known major player, Harry
Warner; Albert or “Honest Abe;” visionary Sam; and volatile Jack.
Rare archival footage, family photos, and documents traced their
scrappy rise from nothing, along with the personal tragedies and
professional battles they overcame along the way.
From opening their first storefront theater by hanging a sheet on the
wall and borrowing chairs from a funeral parlor to creating one of the
top studios in America, these four brothers built an empire on a dream
and revolutionized Hollywood; and they were the first to use mass media
to “educate, entertain, and enlighten.”
Select Warner Names
- Sir Thomas Warner was a 17th century
sea captain and explorer. He settled in St. Kitts, which in 1624 was the first English colony in the Caribbean.
- Ezra Warner was an American
inventor who patented the can opener in 1858.
- Sir Pelham Warner, generally
known as Plum, was a leading English cricketer and administrator in the early 1900’s.
- Jack Warner was a Hollywood studio mogul, the driving force behind Warner Brothers Studios. His family was of Polish Jewish roots.
Select Warner Numbers Today
- 20,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 30,000 in America (most numerous
- 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous
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